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Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, April 14, 2000

Paddles up

Training for the state sport
has begun but it's not too late
to join a paddling club

...and in the water
What's online?

By Linda Aragon
Special to the Star-Bulletin


Paddles up!

It's springtime and that means the return of the canoe paddling season.

Or rather seasons, as die-hard paddlers begin to spend the next six months in the canoe, starting with this month's schedule of short course races, followed by the summer regattas, and then the long-distance races, which ends with the battle on the "Blue Pacific Highway" for the men's and women's champions of the Moloka'i Channel crossing.

"It's an intense season," said June Leialoha, president of Na Ohana O Na Hui Wa'a, one of Oahu's two canoe racing associations.

The short-course race began last week and will continue until regatta season starts on May 28 for Hui Wa'a and on June 4 for Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association.

Some 12,000 paddlers statewide are expected to take part this summer in regatta or long distance races. That number has been growing since many public high schools have joined the private schools in offering paddling as a competitive sport, said Michael Tongg, president of Hawaii Canoe Racing Association.

"There's a real common bond that is shared by all of these people that participate in this sport," Tongg said. "What Hawaii has given back to the world is surfing and canoe racing.

It means a lot to the Hawaiian people to have something that is not only recreational but highly competitive."

From the Pacific Islands and Asia to New York, the interest in canoe paddling is spreading.

"We have about 22 countries that are involved in this sport," Tongg said.

While it's not unusual for Hawaii teams to place in the top spots at races abroad, the biggest prize at home is often the hardest fought.

But 1999 was a good year for Hawaii's men and women. For the first time since the Outrigger Canoe Club's double victory in 1984, two Hawaii teams have kept the top distance prize at home.

The Outrigger Canoe Club won last year's men's Bankoh Molokai Hoe, and Wailua Kayak and Canoe Club won the women's Na Wahine O Ke Kai.

The 41-mile race across the Ka'iwi Channel is considered to be the world championships of long-distance canoe racing.

Still riding on that swell of victory, as well as the Hokuleia's voyage to Rapa Nui, this year has been designated as "Year of the Canoe."

"Year of the Canoe really celebrates what the canoe means to us," Tongg said. "The canoe is the most important artifact that links our people with our past."

"It promotes our culture. It promotes a good healthy lifestyle. Itpromotes the family by getting us together for Sunday regattas. If you really take a hard look at our history and our culture, these will be the guiding values of where we are going, and what we teach our kids."

Tongg said he is asking the state's canoe clubs and island associations to take part in Year of the Canoe events which will be held throughout the state this year.

Leialoha said she is already making plans to ask Hui Wa'a member clubs to help out with the parade of canoes in the September Aloha festivals.

This year a new club, Kumulokahi-Elks Club 616, has joined to increase Hui Wa'a's membership to 16 clubs.

OHCRA, Hui Wa'a and the three other state associations all will compete at Keehi Lagoon on Aug. 25 for the HCRA State Championships.

"It should be a good championship this year," Leialoha said. "All the associations have really grown so there should be good competition."


Wanted: Paddlers. No Experience Necessary

First-time paddlers are welcome at canoe clubs throughout the state.

"Every club is going to have to recruit to fill in pukas in their crew, but particularly for their Novice B's (first-year paddlers)," said Joan Malama of the Kailua Canoe Club.

Throughout the month of April canoe teams are recruiting paddlers to begin setting up their crews for the this summer's regatta season.

Coaches suggest that anyone interested should visit a club's practice site when crews meet, usually at about 5 p.m. weekdays.

"Even if you have to go down early, go down and talk to a coach or talk to somebody involved to find out when a crew goes out,'' Malama said.

Since the season can last several months, it helps to find a club that is conveniently located.

"The best thing to tell people is to decide where you want to paddle, close to your work or close to your home," Malama said.

Oahu paddlers have a choice of two canoe associations to join. Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association with fourteen member clubs and Na Ohana O Na Hui Wa'a with sixteen member clubs. Both associations have highly competitive teams in the open women's, men's, masters, and youth divisions.

The only requirements for most clubs is that paddlers know how to swim, and show up at practice.

How much time a paddler devotes to their club may also be a deciding factor in which team they choose.

"The idea is to get people into paddling and get people into a canoe," Malama said. "We're all in it for the same experience. But if the competition is no good, then it's no fun."

With about 65 canoe teams in the state, this sport attracts all types from weekend warriors to devout athletes. So, paddlers of all experience levels have their choice of clubs.

"We have clubs all over the island, so and they just go visit the ones closest to them," said June Leialoha, Hui Wa'a president.

The cost is fairly inexpensive with club dues ranging from $50 to $200 depending on the club. The price of a paddle also varies in the same price range.

...and in the water


Interested in paddling this year? Here's a list of Oahu clubs and how to get in touch with them:


Alapa Hoe Keehi Lagoon 841-3171
Hawaiian Outrigger Kailua Beach Park 259-7029
Hui O Ikaikai Pokai Bay 695-9001
Imua Keehi Lagoon 677-5874
Kai Poha Keehi Lagoon 486-2970
Kalihi Kai Keehi Lagoon / Ala Wai 845-2726
Kamehameha Ala Wai (Mc Cully Bridge) 597-2611
Kaneohe Heeia Kea Pier 239-5618
Koa Kai Magic Island 956-4776
Kumulokahi-Elks Ala Wai 926-6132 or 923-5722
Lokahi Ala Wai (Kapahulu Ave.) 922-7172
Manu O Ke Kai Haleiwa Beach Park 621-7240
Na Keiki O Ka Mo'i Pokai Bay 696-4164
Waikiki Beach Boys Ala Wai 623-3341
Waikiki Yacht Club Waikiki Yacht Club 597-5486
Windward Kai Kailua Beach Park 261-4206


Anuenue Hilton Hawaiian Village Lagoon 732-6834
Healani Ala Wai (Mc Cully St.) 220-4552
Honolulu Pearl Harbor 486-0697
Hui Lanakila Ala Wai at Mc Cully Bridge Not available
Hui Nalu Maunalua Bay 732-5451
Kailua Kailua Beach Park 261-6615
Kai Oni Kailua Beach Park 261-8244
Keahiakahoe Hauula Beach Park 239-9951
Lanikai Lanikai Beach, 261-0332
Leeward Kai Nanakuli Beach Park 696-8248
Makaha Makaha Beach Park 668-2814
Outrigger Outrigger Canoe Club / Ala Wai 923-1585
Waikiki Surf Club Ala Wai Canal Canoe Halau 595-4418
Waimanalo Kaiona Beach Park 259-5519



Maui Canoe Racing Association Mahina Martin 244-8661
Kauai Garden Island Canoe Racing Assn. Kalani Dawson 822-1944
Big Island Moku O Hawaii Canoe Racing Assn. Maile Mauhili 935-0067
Molokai Molokai Canoe Racing Assn. Liko Wallace 553-5071

What's online


Many clubs are on-line with photos, club history, practice times and information on this year's events. Below is a listing of clubs with websites.


Anuenue Canoe Club --
LanikaiCanoe Club --
Lokahi Canoe Club --
Outrigger Canoe Club --
Waikiki Beach Boys --
WaikikiYacht Club Canoe --


Kai Opua Canoe Club --
Kawaihae Canoe Club --
Waikoloa Canoe Club --


Hawaiian Canoe Club --
Kahana Canoe Club --


Kaiola Canoe Club --


Check out these other Web sites:

Bullet -- Links to all things paddling.
Bullet -- Classifieds on buying or selling kayaks, 1-man or 2-man canoes.
Bullet -- Links to Mainland and International canoe associations and daily marine forecasts.
Bullet -- Photos and news on Hawaii's paddling community.

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